We are a little more a month away from DC's democratic primary for Mayor and tonight the candidates squared off in a debate at the American University Radio studios. Mola Lenghi reports. WUSA
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- The candidates for DC Mayor took potshots at each other again today in another of a seemingly endless debates leading up to the April 1st Democratic primary.
In an ordinary election year, with DC's economy showing a steady recovery, incumbent mayor Vincent Gray might be a shoe-in for another term. But his challengers are eager to point out that Gray's term has been anything but ordinary.
"I believe you cannot have this culture of corruption when you have this growth in our city," said Councilmember Tommy Wells. "Because the one that will kill of economic growth in DC is a corrupt government."
The Mayor has said repeatedly that he knew nothing about a shadow campaign that may have helped him win in 2010. But at the debate at George Washington University, his leading opponent kept dropping hints. "Investigations in the Mayor's office, to make sure we have a strict standard of conduct, and now we have an independent ethics board," said Muriel Bowser.
Mayor Gray ignored the jabs, focusing instead on the businesses he's lured to the city, like the Walmart that is going into the Skyland neighborhood in Southeast. "After twenty years of promises to the people on the east side of this city, the Skyland Shopping Center will finally come to fruition because of the work of this administration on economic development."
The Mayor crowed that under his watch, the city is running a $139 million surplus in next year's budget. But there is plenty of disagreement on what to do with that money.
"I was really surprised when the Mayor's budget director came to my office and said we don't need one penny to spend on homelessness," said Bowser. "And yet we stories of people sleeping in shelters."
"What I'm intending to do with the money is hang on to it and not spend it," said Councilmember Jack Evans.
"There're times when there needs to be a tax cut when we're running a surplus. That's just not found money," said Wells.
There were plenty of things all the candidates agree on. They all support decriminalizing marijuana. And they all support more money for Metro.